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Goodness is A Contentment With The Commandments

The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT

Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – GOODNESS #6

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. There is no law against these things.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

Goodness_5Download

The Manifestation of the HOLY SPIRIT is on FIRE!

The Rich Man

In Luke 18:18-30 NLT says, “18 Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. 20 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’” 21 The man replied, “I’ve carefully obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 22 When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 But when the man heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. 24 When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
26 Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” 27 He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” 28 Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.”
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, 30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

Let’s meditate and study these verses starting in Verses 18-19 > This religious leader addressed our Lord Jesus Christ as good teacher (not the more common “rabbi”) and eagerly asked a question about what he should do to get eternal life. He viewed eternal life as something that a person could achieve or earn through certain works or good deeds, and he wanted to make sure that he did everything necessary.


Instead of answering the man’s question, our Lord Jesus Christ first took issue with the way the man addressed Him. This may have been no more than a flippant attempt at flattery, but our Lord Jesus Christ forced the man to think about it. Because only God is truly good, the man had made a statement about our Lord Jesus Christ that he probably did not even realize. By asking this question, our Lord Jesus Christ was saying, “Do you really know the one to whom you are talking?” The man was correct in calling our Lord Jesus Christ good for He was good and also God.

In Verses 20-22 says, regarding the man’s question, our Lord Jesus Christ at first pointed him back to the commandments (meaning the Ten Commandments). Our Lord Jesus Christ listed only five of them – those dealing with human relationships. He did not list any of the first four commandments that deal with a person’s relationship to God. All of the ones listed could be easily identified – the man probably could honestly say that he had not committed adultery or murder, had not stolen or lied, and had honored his parents. To keep the letter of these laws would be relatively easy for a wealthy young Jewish man. Yet he still felt strongly that something was lacking in his life. So he asked if there were more he should do. The point is that even if a person could keep all these commandments perfectly, which this man claimed to have done, there would still be a lack of assurance of salvation.

In Verses 22-23 says, the man saying that he had kept all the commandments led our Lord Jesus Christ to focus on the man’s relationship to his material possessions (alluding to the last commandment not to covet) and on his relationship to God (the first four commandments that our Lord Jesus Christ had not mentioned). Our Lord Jesus perceived an area of weakness – his wealth – and so said that it was the money itself that was standing in the way of his reaching eternal life. So our Lord Jesus Christ told him to sell everything he owned, give away his money to the poor, and then follow Him. This challenge exposed the barrier that would keep this man out of the Kingdom: his love of money. Ironically, his attitude made him unable to keep the first commandment: “Do not worship any other gods besides me” (Exodus 20:3). The young man did not love God with his whole heart as he had presumed. In reality, his many possessions were his god.


The task of selling every possession would not, of itself, give the man eternal life. But such radical obedience would be the first step. The emphasis was not so much on “selling” as on “following.” Our Lord Jesus’ words to this rich young man were a test of his faith and his willingness to obey. The man thought he needed to do more; our Lord Jesus Christ explained that there was plenty more he could do but not in order to obtain eternal life. Instead, he needed an attitude adjustment toward his wealth; only then could he submit humbly to the lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ. By putting his treasure in heaven and following our Lord Jesus Christ along the road of selflessness and service to others, the man could be assured of his eternal destiny. But the young man became sad when he heard this.


Our Lord Jesus Christ does not ask all believers to sell everything they have. He does ask each person, however, to get rid of anything that has become more important than God. If your basis for security has shifted from God to what you own, you may need to get rid of those possessions.

In Verses 24 -25 says, that offered discipleship, the man chose to return to his possessions. Our Lord Jesus Christ sadly pointed out to his disciples that it is hard for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God. This was contrary to conventional wisdom. Most Jews believed that wealth was a sign of God’s blessing on people. Here our Lord Jesus Christ explained that riches can often prove to be a stumbling block. Rich people often don’t feel the deep spiritual hunger needed to seek out and find God. They can use their money to buy possessions, trips, and helpers so that they don’t perceive any needs in their lives. With all their advantages and influence, the rich often find it difficult to have the attitude of humility, submission, and service required by our Lord Jesus Christ. Because money represents power and success, the rich often miss out on the fact that power and success on earth cannot provide eternal salvation. Even if they use their money to help good causes, they can still miss out on God’s Kingdom.


Our Lord Jesus Christ used a well-known Jewish proverb to describe the difficulty faced by the rich; He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” The Greek word refers to a sewing needle. Our Lord Jesus’ image was for hyperbolic effect. The camel, the largest animal in Palestine, could get through the eye of a sewing needle easier than a rich person could get into God’s Kingdom. These are indeed sobering words for those whose money and possessions are extremely important to them.

In Verses 26-27 says, because the Jewish people saw riches as a sign of God’s special blessing, they were astounded when our Lord Jesus Christ said that riches actually worked against people finding God. So they asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?”


Our Lord Jesus Christ answered that what is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God. People cannot save themselves, no matter how much power, authority, or influence they buy. Salvation comes from God alone. Both rich and poor can be saved, and human impossibilities are divine possibilities. The rich need to hold their riches loosely, remembering that every penny comes from God. And they should willingly use what God has given to advance His Kingdom. This does not come easily for anyone, rich or poor. Money can be a major stumbling block, but God can change anyone.

In Luke 18 and in our last Verses 28-30 says Peter and the other disciples had paid a high price – leaving their homes and jobs – to follow our Lord Jesus Christ. They had done what the rich man had been unwilling to do. They had abandoned their former lives.


Our Lord Jesus Christ reminded Peter (as well as we as Born-Again Christian believers) that following Him has its benefits as well as its sacrifices. Any believer who has had to give up something to follow our Lord Jesus Christ will be repaid in this life as well as in the next. For example, if you must give up a secure job, you will find that God offers a secure relationship with Himself now and forever. If you must give up your family’s approval, you will gain the love of the family of God. For each person the sacrifice may be different, though no less difficult. No matter how much or how little you have, no matter how difficult the sacrifice may be, are you willing to do whatever it takes to have eternal life?

In most of our lives, there is contentment with grace. We needed it so badly when it found us. But having been saved by grace, we spend the rest of our redeemed lives walking around the law. The commandments seem so severe in our thinking. Before I was born-again on March 17, 1974 and experienced the love and forgiveness of God, I have this belief, the “big” mortal, and “small” (immortal) sins, but now I understand whether it’s big or small, we are all sinners and come short of the glory of God. The “big” commandments – killing, stealing, committing adultery – give us less trouble than the “small” ones – like bearing false testimony and coveting.

We all want to be saved with logic like this and cash in on grace by confessing some general sins while not getting too specific with regard to any of the commandments. Consider the case of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-30 stated above. He was better at avoiding sins of commission (things done wrong) than he was at sins of omission (things he should have been doing but wasn’t). He should have been serving the poor. He should have been giving his wealth to feed the hungry.

Materialism is not on the “big ten list” unless we group it under covetousness, which the rich young man didn’t do. But one thing must be said to commend this young man. He was comfortable with God’s law. Goodness is a hard word with which to feel comfortable. Is anyone really “good”? Still, if we could keep the commandments, we would be good – or at least we’d be better. But the commandments were not given to help us to be good or better. They were given to make us more righteous so that we could build a relationship with a holy God. If we are not comfortable with the commandments, are we really comfortable with the idea of wanting to be righteous? If we turn from righteousness, can we ever really relate to the holiness of God?

Let me encourage our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ, and I want my readers to be both strong in the faith and sensitive to others’ needs. Because all, we as Born-Again Christian believers are strong in certain areas and weak in others, we constantly need to monitor the effects of our behavior on others.

In these GOODNESS Series of Podcast, we will learn the PURPOSE of this fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT:

  1. Learn To Care How God Feels About Our Morality – Podcast Goodness #1
  2. To Have The Desire For Holiness – Podcast Goodness #2
  3. To Know That God Implanted Righteousness Into Our Lives Through Our Lord Jesus Christ – Podcast Goodness #3
  4. Learn To Imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ – Podcast Goodness #4
  5. The Virtue Of The Written Word Of God – Podcast Goodness #5
  6. To Be Contented With God’s Commandments – Podcast Goodness #6

If you are not sure that you are Born-Again Christian believer, please take a look of one of our ministries, “An Invitation To Meet Our Lord Jesus Christ” at https://homefellowshipchurches.org/an-invitation-to-meet-our-lord-jesus-christ/

Observation: What do these passages say to you?

Interpretation: What do these passages mean to you?

Application: How do the meaning of these passages apply to you or to your situation?

Suggested Prayer: Father God, we come into your presence in Jesus name, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for Your agape love and for the Holy Spirit as our Helper and Comforter. We cling, yield, plug-in and tune-in to you Holy Spirit to help us to understand God’s Words, receive Your divine revelation, know the Truth that sets us free, and obey them, in Jesus name, Amen!

God bless you all!

An Invitation to Meet our Lord Jesus Christ

We hope that our “Home Fellowship Churches” has not only helped all of you understand and experience more about the Bible, and first and foremost, knowing the Way, the Truth, and the Life at this moment of adversities especially this pandemic COVID-19, forced us to – Stay At Home.

Perhaps it has also caused you to think seriously about your own relationship with God. If your life were to end today or tomorrow, God forbid -, and it certainly will someday – what valid reason would you give the living God that you should spend eternity in heaven?

If you have always assumed that “being a good person” or “not killing anybody” was the requirement for heaven, that is not a correct assumption. The Bible says we have all sinned and that our sins separate us from a holy and loving God. No human being can be good enough to qualify for heaven. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ came, that is why our Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be put to death on a Cross, and that is why He conquered death by His resurrection. The only way to be assured of eternal life is to depend completely on the grace and mercy of God expressed through Jesus Christ.

If you would like to be certain of your eternal destiny and begin a new relationship [not new religion] with God today – you can do both in the next few moments – here is how:

  1. First, you need to recognize and acknowledge that you need God’s forgiveness offered only in Jesus Christ.

All have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. [Romans 3:23-24]

  • You must repent of your sin – that is, turn away from anything in your life that you know to be wrong before God – and resolve to walk in a path that is obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God. [Acts 2:38]
  • You must walk ask Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to give you spiritual rebirth and to come and live in you. Our Lord Jesus Christ replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” [John 3:3] “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear Me calling and open the door, I will come in.” [Revelation 3:20]
  • You must commit yourself completely to knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior for the rest of your life.

The apostle Paul said, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us to heaven.” [Philippians 3:13-14]

I invite and encourage you to begin your new life with our Lord Jesus Christ today. You can take the steps outlined above by talking to God just as you would to a friend and/or just as you are. You can pray something like this:

Dear God, I acknowledge that I have sinned – intentionally or unintentionally – and that I fall short of your standard of perfect goodness and holiness. I know that I cannot save myself by good works. I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died on the Cross to pay for my sins, that He rose from the dead to give me the hope of eternal life, and that one day He will return to take me to be with Him in heaven forever. Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to forgive my sins. Please send your Holy Spirit into my life and begin to teach me and shape me as you wish. I commit myself to knowing, loving, and serving you as my personal Savior and Lord for the rest of my life. Please help me to do that, in the name of Jesus, Amen!

You do not need to pray exactly those words. Just talk to God honestly from your heart. He will hear you and understand. You may or may not feel anything special as you talk to Him, but if you genuinely want to belong to Christ, rest assured that He will welcome you into His family of Born-Again Christian believers. Think of it – the God of the universe, who created you, will forgive all your sins and make you a new person with a new start! [2 Corinthians 5:17]

He will live in you by His Spirit and be your loving Savior and Lord. He will guide you throughout this life and welcome you into heaven when you die. The Bible says that if you have turned from your sins and asked God to save you and make you His, the Angels in heaven are rejoicing over you. [Luke 15:10]

                If you are a new Born-Again Christian, we encourage you to do two things:

                First, begin to read your Bible and talk to God every day. Prayer is simply talking honestly with God. As you do that, you will begin to sense God reminding you of the Bible’s truths and giving you strength to obey Him through the Holy Spirit. As you probably already noticed, the pages and posts in our new, “Home Fellowship Churches” includes Bible Studies. If you do not already have a hard copy of the Bible, let us know, and will ship the Bible to you for free. You might consider purchasing one of the new translations that include helpful study notes. You might try the Life Application Bible published by Tyndale House Publishers, and/or download the Bible App, “YouVersion” from www. bible.com.

                Second, all Christians are encouraged find a local church where they can share in the experience of worshiping with other believers, learn, from the teaching, and enjoy getting to know other Christians. It may take some time to find just the right church for you. Make it a top priority to do so. A good church will be a great encouragement and help as you grow in your new Christian life and spiritual maturity.

                For the meantime, while this pandemic COVID-19 is still around, and simultaneously looking around to find the right church for you, you are welcome to join us at www.trinityblessings.org, and/or www.homefellowshipchurches.org [under construction].

May God bless you richly as you begin your journey of faith with our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!

God’s Mercy and Grace,

Elias A Busuego Jr PhD DTM – Founder & Pastor of Home Fellowship Churches & Chaplain of American Legion Post 447 & District 10

PEACE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST

PETER’S VISION AND VISITS CORNELIUS

ACTS 10:9-16 stated, “9 The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, 10 and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.11 He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. 12 In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. 13 Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” 14 “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” 15 But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” 16 The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.”

Like Cornelius, Peter prayed daily. Morning and evening were the common times to pray, and evidently Peter made it a habit to pray in the middle of the day as well (see Nehemiah 1:4-11; Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10). This significant opening of the door to the Gentiles was God-directed, but note that the two men were devout, God-dependent, regular seekers of God through prayer. It is no coincidence that Peter and Cornelius were both found praying when God revealed more of himself to them.
Peter went up to the flat roof to pray. Houses in Bible times usually had flat roofs accessed by an outside staircase. The roof would have given Peter privacy. As he prayed, he was hungry and evidently fell into a trance while he was waiting for lunch to be prepared. During this trance God spoke to him.

Peter saw something like a large sheet being let down to earth from heaven. The voice, obviously that of someone in authority (probably God himself), told Peter that he was free to kill and eat the animals, including reptiles and birds. According to Jewish law, these particular foods were forbidden (see Leviticus 11). Peter, always ready to voice his opinion, expressed his conviction not to eat anything forbidden by the Jewish laws. The point of this vision, as was about to be made clear, was that God was working outside of Israel, beyond Israel, and if Peter was to be a part of what God was doing, he needed to understand that nothing was unclean.

This educating of Peter, as with the educating of most believers, took a little repetition—three times in this case. God was revealing something that would be startling to Peter’s Jewish mind; God was basically nullifying the Jewish dietary laws and, by analogy, God was preparing Peter to meet an unclean Gentile.

PEACE AND THE PURPOSE OF GOD IN OUR LIVES

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST came to offer His body on the Cross for us as a sacrifice

PSALM 40:6-8 “You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that You have made Me listen, finally understand – You don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings. 7 Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about Me in the Scriptures: 8 I take joy in doing Your will, My God, for Your instructions are written on My heart.”

           Two cultic requirements were placed on the king. First, he was to have sacrifices offered up (2 Samuel 6:13; 1 Kings 8:62.). Second, he was to show his loyalty to God’s law by making a personal copy of it (Deuteronomy 17:14.). These obligations of the king find their fullness in Christ (Hebrews 10:5.), who offers himself as the final sacrifice and who, as the Word of God, faithfully and delightfully fulfills the law (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). mine ears hast thou opened – The Hebrew literally means “ears you have dug for me,” referring to the penetration of God’s word into the psalmist’s heart, which responds in obedience (cf. Exodus 21:6, where a servant voluntarily had his ear pierced). Hebrews 10:5 follows the Septuagint reading “but you prepared a body for me.” The writer of Hebrews does not lay any stress on this clause, and his argument is complete without it. It is, perhaps, to be regarded as an interpretation or free translation by the Septuagint (cf. Isaiah 53). Either way, the sense is substantially the same, as a body was essential to the required obedience (cf. Romans 7:4; 1 Peter 2:24). volume of the book—a scroll of book length, most likely the law of Moses. it is written of me – The king makes an enthronement affirmation declaring his loyalty to the law (Deuteronomy 17:14.; 2 Kings 22:13). This was fulfilled by Christ’s perfect keeping of the law (Matthew 5:17).

Hebrews 10:5-7 qouted, 5 “That is why, when Christ came into the world, He said to God,
“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given Me a body to offer. 6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God – as is written about Me in the Scriptures.’”

Although sacrifices were necessary to pay the price of sin, this quotation reveals that God never took pleasure in sacrifices – You did not want animal sacrifices and grain offerings. In many places in the Bible, God revealed that He didn’t want the sacrifices of a person whose heart was not right. God wanted His people to obey Him. The sacrifices were necessary, however, because the people did not live up to the regulations that God had given them.


Applying to Christ the words of Psalm 40:6-8, our Lord Jesus Christ came to offer His body on the Cross for us as a sacrifice that is completely acceptable to God. God’s new and living way for us to please Him comes not by keeping laws or even by abstaining from sin, but by turning to Him in faith for forgiveness and then following Him in loving obedience. This was what set Christ’s sacrifice apart. He followed God’s will, obeyed Him, and offered the perfect sacrifice of perfect obedience.
The entire Old Testament (the Scriptures) had written about Christ and His coming. The law and the sacrificial system was a shadow of what was to come. Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the law as well as the prophecies that announced the coming of the new covenant.

Matthew 5:17 stated, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come as a rabbi with a brand new teaching; He came as the promised Messiah with a message heard from the beginning of time. “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them.” Our Lord Jesus Christ completes and transcends the law. The Old Testament law is not rescinded but now must be reinterpreted and reapplied in light of our Lord Jesus Christ. God does not change His mind. Our Lord Jesus’ coming had been part of God’s plan from Creation (see Genesis 3:15).

HOME IS WHERE YOUR HEART IS by Matt Hagee of Hagee Ministries https://www.jhm.org/Sermons/home-is-where-the-heart-is/0

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

ACCEPTING A HIGHER WILL IS PEACE

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST APPEARS TO SEVEN DISCIPLES

JOHN 21:15-19 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. 18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

            Simon son of John was the name Jesus had said when He first met this man who would become His disciple (John 1:42). But Peter had not yet proven himself to live up to that name-Peter, “the rock.” According to Luke 24:34, Jesus had probably met with Peter previously. Jesus’ first question to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” could be translated in three ways: (1) “Do you love me more than these men love me?” (2) “Do you love me more than you love these men?” (3) “Do you love me more than these things?” (that is, the fishing boat, nets, and gear). Of the three options, the first seems the most appropriate because Peter had boasted that he would never forsake Jesus, even if all the other disciples did (see Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; John 13:37). This was the same as saying that he had more love for Jesus than the others did.

Peter did just the opposite of what he boasted: He denied Jesus three times. As a consequence, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” to affirm Peter’s love and commitment. Each time Peter told Jesus, “I love you,” Jesus exhorted Peter to care for his flock: “Feed my lambs” (John 1:15); “Take care of my sheep” (John 21:16); “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). Lambs and sheep can be taken as words of endearment. Our Lord Jesus Christ’s love and concern is for all believers-the entire “flock” that would grow as a result of the apostles’ ministry.

Our Lord Jesus Christ used a proverbial statement about old age to depict Peter’s death, which was by crucifixion. From this day onward, Peter knew what death lay before him. Peter never forgot this prophecy from Jesus; Peter referred to it in his Second Epistle when he spoke about his imminent death (see 2 Peter 1:14). Peter was crucified in Rome under Nero around A.D. 65-67. By HIs words, “Follow me,” Jesus was reinstating and restoring Peter as His disciple. What assurance these words must have been for Peter. Despite what glory or trial or death lay ahead, he would always be under the Savior’s care, for he would be following Jesus.
Three years earlier, along the same lake, Jesus had said the same words to Peter-”Follow me.” These words mean “Keep on following.” Stripped of pride, impulsiveness, and false expectations of leadership, Peter was ready to follow Christ in a new way because of new experiences and a clearer picture of himself.

“Follow Memeans consistent discipleship and steadfast pursuit of Christ, even if that requires martyrdom. It means continuing Christ’s work in the way He wants it done, not in a way we want it done.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER BY Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

HEALTH BENEFITS OF PRAYER

1. Becoming More Forgiving

Source: Psychological Science – In one study, people who prayed for a romantic partner/spouse harbored fewer vengeful thoughts and emotions and were ready to forgive and move on after a conflict.

Spiritually: The Bible, New Living Translation (NLT) Romans 5:15 stated, “But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. “James 5:13 stated, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies God’s generous gift of forgiveness through Christ (justification) has a greater but opposite effect than the trespass of Adam and its consequences. Yet in each case, the act of one affected the lives of many. Because of Adam’s sin, death entered the human race, and since then all people have died (with the Bible’s exceptions of Enoch and Elijah). All people will die until the end of this age. Because of Jesus Christ, however, we can trade judgment for forgiveness. We can trade our sin for Jesus’ goodness. Our Lord Jesus Christ offers us the opportunity to be born into His spiritual family – the family line that begins with forgiveness and leads to eternal life. If we do nothing, we have death through Adam; but if we come to God by faith, we have an abundant life here on earth and eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever.

There are many responses to suffering. Some of us worry; some of us vow revenge against those who have caused the suffering; some of us let anger burn inside us. Some grumble. But James says the correct response to suffering is to keep on praying about it (see also Psalms 30; 50:15; 91:15). This is not necessarily a prayer for deliverance from the trouble, but for the patience and strength to endure it. If we are fortunate enough to be happy, we should thank God by singing praises to the Lord (see also 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Because our praise is directed to God, singing is actually another form of prayer.

2. Achieving Goals More Effectively

Source: Psychological Bulletin – Prayer affects regions of the brain that improve self-control, and people who view their goals as sacred put more effort and energy into attaining them.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) James 1:4 stated, “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – It is not our nature to endure. When it comes to trials, we would rather escape, explain, or exit the difficulty. In fact, we will tend to do almost anything to avoid enduring a trial. Faithful endurance, however, generates whole people, recognized as strong in character, or mature. We will be seasoned, experienced, well-developed, fit for the tasks God sent us into the world to do. This strength is a quality developed by how much we have learned from the trials we have experienced. We are also ready for anything because we have been fully trained. The weaknesses and imperfections are being removed from our character; we are gaining victory over old sins; we are demonstrating a sense of competence about life. This completeness relates to the breadth of our experience.

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS ALIVE IN THE PERSON OF, GOD – THE HOLY SPIRIT!

3. Living A Longer Life

Source: Health Psychology – More people found that in addition to private prayer, attending religious services/gathering in Home Fellowship Churches/Bible Study Groups, and being involved in other church/group activities predicted a longer and healthier lifespan.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 stated, “14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Everything that Paul and his companions did was to honor God. Not only did fear of God motivate them (see 2 Corinthians 5:11), but Christ’s love controlled their actions. Out of His great love, Jesus had given up His life for their sakes. He had not acted out of His own self-interest, selfishly holding on to the glory of heaven that He already possessed (Philippians 2:6). Instead, Jesus had willingly died for everyone. Those who believe that also believe that they have died to the old life. They should be willing to abandon their old, selfish ways in order to live a new life for Christ (Romans 6:6-14; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:20). Like Paul, we should no longer live to please ourselves. We should die to ourselves and live for our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive today and interceding with God on our behalf (Romans 6:22).

4. Coping Better With Breast Cancer

Source: PscyhoOncology – Praying in an online support group helped breast cancer patients experience less stress, have lower levels of negative emotions, and experience greater well-being. In addition, belief in an afterlife reduced fear of death.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) John 11:25-26 stated, “Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.* Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – To the woman at the well (John 4:25-26), our Lord Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah; to the blind man (John 9:35-37), He disclosed Himself as the Son of Man; but here He enlarged the picture by revealing Himself as the source of resurrection life.
To understand Jesus’ statement, we need to see it in two parts. First, Jesus explained the resurrection: “I am the resurrection . . . Those who believe in me, even though they die . . . will live again.” Then He explained the life: “I am . . . the life . . . They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish.”
The believer will not experience eternal death. Lazarus had been a believer in Jesus; therefore, even though he died, he would live. Every Born-Again Christian believer who has died will yet live, and everyone who is still living and believing will die, but not eternally. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not promise the prevention of physical death; He guaranteed in Himself to give abundant life, including resurrection and eternity with Him. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not prevent Lazarus’s physical death (after being raised, Lazarus would eventually die again), but Lazarus had the guarantee of eternal life.

5. Protecting Teens Against Drugs

Source: Psychology of Addictive Drugs – Teens who view religion as a meaningful part of their lives are half as likely to use drugs, compared to non-religious teens – especially during stressful times, (COVID-19 Stay-At-Home, unemployment, etc.) such as having an unemployed parent, and lockdown small businesses.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 1 Corinthians 10:13 stated, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Temptations come into every believer’s life – no one is exempt. Temptation is not sinful; the sin comes when the person gives in to temptation. Born-Again Christian believers must not be shocked or discouraged, or think that they are alone in their shortcomings. Instead, they should realize their weaknesses and turn to God to resist the temptation. Enduring temptation brings great rewards (James 1:12). But God does not leave His people to Satan’s whims. Instead, God is faithful. He will not always remove the temptation, because facing it and remaining strong can be a growing experience; however, God does promise to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. The secret to resisting temptation is to recognize the source of the temptation and then to recognize the source of strength in temptation.
Not only that, but God also promises to show you a way out so that you will not give in to the temptation and fall into sin. It will take self-discipline to look for that “way out” even in the middle of the temptation and then to take it when it is found. The way out is seldom easy and often requires support from others. One of the God-given ways of escape from temptation is common sense. If a believer knows that he will be tempted in certain situations, then he should stay away from them. Another way out of temptation is through Christian friends. Instead of trying to deal with temptation alone, a believer can explain his/her dilemma to a close Christian friend and ask for support. This friend can pray, hold the person accountable, and give valuable insights and advice.
The truth is that God loves His people so much that He will protect them from unbearable temptation. And He will always give a way out. Temptation need never drive a wedge between believers and God. Instead, a believer ought to be able to say, “Thank you, God, for trusting me that much. You know I can handle this temptation. Now what do you want me to do?”

6. Recovering From Abusive Relationships

Source: Social Psychology Quarterly – Prayer helps victims of abusive relationships to recover a positive view of themselves and reduces emotional pain. In addition, people who are religious are less likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] after being victims of violence in a relationship.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 stated, “14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil*? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – After passionately appealing to the Corinthians to open their hearts to him, Paul exhorted them, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.” He urged them not to form binding relationships with nonbelievers because this might weaken their Christian commitment, integrity, or standards.
Earlier, Paul had explained that not associating with unbelievers did not mean isolation from nonbelievers (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-10). The Corinthians were even to remain with their unbelieving spouses (1 Corinthians 7:12-13). In order to witness to their neighbors, believers were to adopt some of the customs of the people to whom they were witnessing (1 Corinthians 9:2).

7. Reducing Financial Stress

Source: The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion – Older people found that faith and attendance at religious services/Home Fellowship Churches/Bible Study Groups offset the emotional toll of financial strain. Prayer increases gratitude which, in turn, reduces negative impact of financial difficulties.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Philippians 4:19 stated, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The same God who had taken care of Paul would also supply all their needs. The Philippian church was not wealthy. God had met Paul’s need through the generosity of the Philippian church. God would more than repay that generosity by supplying the need of the Philippian church. Not only would God supply all our needs, but He would do it from His glorious riches. Born-Again Christian believers cannot begin to comprehend God’s riches in glory – His riches are limitless, infinite. If it is from that storehouse that believers’ needs are met, then we as Born-Again Christian believers could rest assured that God would indeed meet every need, [not wants] no matter how large, desperate, or hopeless it seemed.

8. Reducing Genetic Risk for Depression

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Matthew 11:28-30 stated, “28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – While those wise and learned in their own eyes are blinded to the truth (Matthew 11:25-26), our Lord Jesus Christ invites those who are weary and carry heavy burdens. The “wise and learned” Pharisees had placed so many rules and regulations on the people that religion had become like “labor,” and a life of devotion to the Law had become a burden to carry (see Matthew 23:1-4). But Jesus invited the “little ones,” true disciples with eyes open to see the truth, to come to Him and find rest from these labors. Jesus was clearly admonishing them to abandon Pharisaic legalism and join Him. Those who follow Christ will find refreshment in their renewed relationship with Him, freedom from guilt over sin, deliverance from fear and despair, and the promise of continued help and guidance from the Holy Spirit. (See Hebrews 3–4 for more on the New Testament view of rest.) A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of animals, such as oxen, that is attached to a piece of equipment that the animals are to pull. The law was a “yoke” that was considered hard to bear. Our Lord Jesus Christ used the familiar phrasing used of the law as an invitation to discipleship. “Take off the burdensome yoke of the Pharisee-styled law,” Jesus said, and “take my yoke upon you.” Following Jesus would not be a free ride; Jesus had already described the persecution and rejection His followers could expect (Matthew 10:17-42). They were not free from all constraints; they would carry a yoke, but it would be light. Again, this did not belittle the importance or difficulty of carrying out His mission; indeed, Jesus asked for more than mere obedience to the law. Discipleship requires extraordinary effort. These words focused on Jesus’ care and concern for His followers, His promise of guidance and presence (Matthew 28:20), and the ultimate future rewards.
Jesus said, “Let me teach you.” Jesus, their leader and example, was also the ultimate servant, humble and gentle. His path of humble service is the pattern for us to follow.

9. Increasing Happiness and Financial Satisfaction

Source: Journal of Religion and Health – Adults who are the most religious (spiritually matured and in good health), in terms of prayer with a positive focus, attendance at church services, home fellowships, Bible studies, and using their faith to deal with day-to-day problems in a positive way, are happier and more satisfied with their financial situation.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The hunger about which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke is a hunger based on poverty because of one’s lot in life or for taking a stand with Christ. The word hungry pictures an intense longing that needs to be satisfied; people who do not get food will eventually die of hunger. Jesus’ promise to those with this kind of hunger is “you will be satisfied.” Jesus will completely satisfy those with spiritual hunger.
Our Lord Jesus Christ promises that those who weep now . . . will laugh with joy. Scholars differ on the exact nature of this “weeping.” Jesus may have been referring to the nation of Israel weeping for its sins; others interpret this more personally, explaining that it refers to those who weep for their own sins or even for personal grief or oppression. Still other scholars see in the word “weeping” a picture of God’s people who suffer because of their faith in Him. Most likely it refers to people who are sensitive to the world’s sin and resultant suffering. While their pain is real, they can know the end of the story and laugh.

10. Improving Recovery From Heart Surgery

Source: The Gerontologist – People who pray with a positive, hopeful attitude as an ongoing part of their lives prior to undergoing heart surgery, experience less depression and anxiety afterwards, both in the short and long term.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 2 Corinthians 13:9 stated, “We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Just as parents will make great sacrifices for their children’s welfare, so Paul didn’t hesitate to make sacrifices for the Corinthians. Paul wanted the Corinthians to grow in the faith and to become strong Christians and be recovered and restored to maturity. If he had to exhaust himself, deplete his own resources, and appear weak, he would do so for their sakes (see also 2 Corinthians 1:6; 12:14-15).

11. Improving Outlook Among Prostate Cancer Patients

Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine – Those whose religion or spiritual good health gave them a sense of meaning and peace were less likely to experience depression and coped more effectively with their condition.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 stated, 13 “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Paul’s final words to the church in Corinth sum up what he has written in this letter.
They were to be on guard, constantly watchful for spiritual enemies that might slip in and threaten to destroy them, whether it be divisions (1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 11:18), pride (1 Corinthians 3:18-21), sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-8), disorder (1 Corinthians 14:40), or erroneous theology (1 Corinthians 15:12).
They needed to stand true to what they believed – the Gospel that had brought them salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
They had to be courageous so that they could stand against false teachers, deal with sin in the congregation, and straighten out the problems that Paul had addressed in this letter.
They should be strong with the strength given by the Holy Spirit.
They should do everything with love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13), because without love, they would be no more than prideful noisemakers.

12.0 Enhancing Recovery From Brain Injury

Source: Rehabilitation Psychology – Those who suffered traumatic brain injury and felt the strongest connection to a higher power [especially with God, the Holy Spirit ] were least distressed, most satisfied with their lives, and experienced better recovery.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Matthew 10:7-8 stated, 7 “Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Our Lord Jesus Christ sent His disciples out to announce that the Kingdom of Heaven was near. Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom. The Kingdom is still “near.” Jesus, the Messiah, has already begun His Kingdom on earth in the hearts of His followers. One day the Kingdom will be fully realized.
The disciples were also to use the authority and power Jesus had given them (Matthew 10:1). He gave the disciples a principle to guide their actions as they ministered to others: Give as freely as you have received. The disciples had received salvation and the Kingdom without cost; they should give their time under the same principle. Because God has showered us with His blessings, we should give generously to others of our time, love, and possessions.

13. Protecting Against Stress

Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine – Seniors or older people with strong personal religious beliefs do not experience significantly elevated blood pressure when faced with stressful events. Prayer fosters compassion and a loving attitude which reduces a harmful stress response in the brain.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Romans 9:14-16 stated, “14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! 15 For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” 16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau, not because of their character or their actions, but simply because that was His choice. “Was God being unfair?” we might ask. “Surely those Jews who are working so hard to follow all of God’s laws should be chosen. Isn’t it rather arbitrary of God to just choose some and reject others?”
Paul’s wording of the question in Greek expects a negative answer, which he emphatically supplies: Of course not! If God gave anyone exactly what they deserved the results would be disastrous! Both Isaac and Jacob were scoundrels. God demonstrated unexpected grace when He chose these men in spite of their weaknesses and failures. God is absolutely sovereign. He had explained to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose” (see Exodus 33:19). We might still be tempted to say, “Doesn’t that seem a bit unfair?” But by asking such a question we are claiming a higher understanding of fairness than God Himself.

We must remember that God has no obligation to show mercy or compassion to any of us – not one of us deserves His slightest concern. For God to even choose anyone is evidence of His great mercy. These Words of God reveal that He does show mercy and compassion, but they are by His sovereign choice.
We tend to read God’s statement to Moses (which was a response to Moses’ request to see God’s glory) as if it were an expression of God’s withholding mercy rather than a statement of His merciful generosity. In the context of this statement in Exodus, God was not justifying Himself, but saying in effect, “I will have mercy on people you would not expect, and I will have compassion in ways that will surprise you, especially when I am compassionate with you!” No one can know the heart of a person in the way that God knows. No individual, court of law, or group can perfectly assess the righteousness of a person. So we must leave the choosing and judging to God.

14. Reducing Impact of Chronic Pain

Source: Journal of Behavioral Medicine – People with chronic pain who prayed with a positive attitude were less affected by pain in their daily lives, and were able to manage it and had a more positive outlook on life.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 1 Peter 5:10 stated, “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to Him forever! Amen.

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – When we are suffering, we often feel as though our pain will never end. Peter gave these faithful Christians the wider perspective. In comparison with eternity, their suffering would last only a little while. This repeats what Peter said in 1 Peter 1:6. Some of Peter’s readers would be strengthened and delivered in their own lifetimes. Others would be released from their suffering through death. After that time of suffering, God promises to restore (set right what has gone wrong, put in order, complete), support (by admonition and guidance), strengthen (give courage no matter what happens), and place them on a firm foundation (build on a “rock,” therefore being unmovable). While their suffering will be only for a little while, their glory in Christ will be eternal. In life or in death, God’s purposes will be accomplished and His promises to Born-Again Christian believers will be fulfilled because believers have been called into God’s eternal glory. God called – this was His initiative. He will do as He promised because all power is His forever and ever.

15. Decreasing Alcohol Abuse

Source: Hospital and Community Psychiatry – People who frequently pray and regularly attend church services are less likely to abuse alcohol. Watching or listening to religious television or radio programs does not have the same impact.

Spiritually:The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Luke 6:27-28 stated, 27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt [or abuse] you.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Our Lord Jesus Christ taught that love must not be selective. His followers are to love all people, regardless of how unlovely or even hostile they may be. They also must act on that love by being willing to do good when it is in their power to do it. There are several words for love in Greek. The word used here is agape, meaning the kind of love shown even when the one loved has no merit for that love. It is love that must be chosen and willed.
All people have experienced agape from God. God loved the world even while people were sinful and rebellious. God willed to love His people and sent His Son to die for them, not because they deserved it or had any merit, but only because of God’s love. Those who have experienced God’s love understand what it means to be loved undeservedly. People who were once enemies of God and have joined His family can understand what it means to love your enemies. Only with the help of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, can His people do good to those who hate them, pray for the happiness of those who curse them, and pray for those who hurt them (see Romans 12:14-21). When Born-Again Christian believers are hated, cursed, and hurt, they are to respond with love.

16. Kids Doing Better in School

Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion – School-aged children who are involved in church activities have higher educational expectations and are likely to do better in math and reading. Children who attend religious services at least once a month are half as likely to repeat a grade than those who attend less frequently.

Spiritually:The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 2 Timothy 2:15 stated, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The antithesis of the false teachers are ministers who work hard for God. A good worker who correctly explains the word of truth would be the most effective silencer of the false teachers. The Christians would need unity, strength, and the truth of the Gospel to survive the persecutions ahead, to impart the truth to future generations. This incredible responsibility means individual teachers, ministers, and leaders must seek not the approval of people, but the approval of God. An unashamed worker can present his or her life and ministry to God, knowing that God will approve the quality of work. Approval of one’s ministry before God will depend on how well one has proclaimed, explained, and applied the word of truth. We must help the Gospel cut a straight path and do nothing to hinder it.

17. Significantly Lowering Health Risks

Source: International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine – People who hold and practice religious beliefs with a positive outlook have lower health risks. For example, in a study of nearly 6,000 Californians between the ages of 21 and 75, attending weekly religious services reduced risk of death and disease for women to the same extent as not smoking, not abusing alcohol, oe being physically active. Benefits for men, although notable, were not as pronounced.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) John 5:14-15 stated, “14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Perhaps the man had gone to the Temple to give thanks to God for his healing. When Jesus found him, he told him, “Stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” This statement leads to the conclusion that the man’s sickness was in some way caused by sin. This does not contradict what Jesus said in John 9:3 about the man born blind because Jesus did not say the blind man never sinned; rather, he was pointing out that sin had not caused his blindness. One of the results of sin is suffering, but not all suffering is the result of personal sin.
In this case, Jesus sought out the healed man to warn him that though he was healed physically, his thirty-eight years as an invalid would be nothing compared to something worse-that is, eternity in hell. The man needed to stop sinning and come to salvation in Christ. He had been lame, but now he could walk. This was a great miracle. But he needed an even greater miracle-to have his sins forgiven. The man was delighted to be physically healed, but he had to turn from his sins and seek God’s forgiveness to be spiritually healed.
After this encounter, the man told the Jewish leaders what he could not tell them before: It was Jesus who had healed him. This report triggered the Jews’ persecution of our Lord Jesus Christ – a persecution that continued from that day onward.

18. Making Substance Abuse & coronaVirus (COVID-19) Treatment More Effective

Source: Psychiatric Services – An analysis of data from Veteran Affairs hospitals showed that among 600 veterans who underwent a substance abuse treatment program, those who were most religious were 34 percent less likely to need readmission for further treatment. Other studies of people who were not veterans show similar benefits.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Colossians 3:17 stated, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Earlier Paul listed a few vices and virtues to give the Colossian believers an idea of what was expected of them in their attitudes toward one another, but he did not want to regulate every area of life with a list of rules. So Paul gave this general command to cover every area of life.
Everything Born-Again Christian believers said and everything we did should be done as a representative of our Lord Jesus Christ, realizing His constant presence and bringing honor and glory to Him in every aspect and activity of daily living (see also 1 Corinthians 10:31). To act in someone’s name is to act on His authority; we act as Christ’s representatives and/or ambassadors.
Paul echoed the need for giving thanks, as he had in Colossians 3:15 and 3:16. All we do for our Lord Jesus Christ should be done with the spirit of thankfulness for all He has done for us. We as Born-Again Christian believers are not enslaved to rules about every word people speak or deed they do; instead, we freely put ourselves under the Lord’s guidance because we love Him, have accepted His salvation, and live to glorify Him.

19. Reducing Risk for Diabetes Complications

Source: Diabetes Care – People with diabetes who attended religious services, at least occasionally, were less likely to have chronic internal inflammation (measured as C-reactive protein). Inflammation indicates increased risk for heart disease and complications of diabetes.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Acts 15:24-26 stated, “24 “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! 25 So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – In this letter, the Jerusalem church disassociated itself from those men who had troubled the Gentile converts regarding circumcision. They had received no such instructions from the apostles and had been acting without their approval. They were not to be regarded as spokesmen for the church. Rather, the men bringing the letter (Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas) had been chosen as representatives of the church, with authority to speak on behalf of the elders and apostles.

20. Recovering From the Loss of a Loved One

Source: Journals of Gerontology – People age 60 and older, those who believed in a good afterlife were less likely to develop high blood pressure after the death of a loved one. Thus, they were in better health.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 stated, “50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. 51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The resurrected bodies have to be different from these present, physical bodies because flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These bodies cannot go into God’s eternal Kingdom because these present bodies were not made to live forever – otherwise they would. So God has prepared new bodies that will live forever. The resurrection is a fact; new bodies ready for life in eternity is also a fact.

With great emphasis Paul passed on to these Corinthians a secret – knowledge given to him by divine revelation from our Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase not all of us will die means that some Christians will still be alive at the time of Christ’s return. They will not have to die before they get their new resurrection bodies. (For further discussion of these new bodies, see 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.) Instead, they will all be transformed, immediately (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). A trumpet blast will usher in the new heaven and earth. Christ will return, the dead will be raised out of the graves with transformed bodies. Those still alive will be transformed, also receiving their new bodies. This change will happen instantly for all Born-Again Christians, whether they are dead or alive. All will be made ready to go with our Lord Jesus Christ.

21. Lowering Men’s Risk for Fatal Heart Disease

Source: American Journal of Epidemiology – Men between the ages of 42 and 77 who lacked close friends or a social network and did not attend religious services had significantly increased risk of death from heart disease.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Acts 10:23-24 stated, “23 So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Peter had been staying at the house of Simon the leatherworker. Peter continued to remove barriers: not only was he staying in a place that his prejudices would have previously prohibited (see Acts 9:42-43), he went a step further by inviting Gentiles into that home to be his guests. This kind of fellowship would have been unacceptable to a strict Jew. A sheet had been let down from heaven, and Peter’s eyes were being opened.
Peter was wise to take with him some other believers from Joppa (six believers, according to Acts 11:12). Some things, particularly changes as radical as Peter suspected were on the horizon, were better observed firsthand rather than explained secondhand. Possibly Peter knew that it was easier for him to accept this new Gentile openness to the Gospel because he had been present at the “Samaritan Pentecost” (Acts 8:15-17). If God were truly doing something new, it would be best that other believers could see it as well. The eagerness and expectation of Cornelius was obvious, for he called together his relatives and close friends, probably many, considering Cornelius’s reputation for kindness and piety.

22. Enhancing Satisfaction With Life

Source: Psychosomatic Medicine – Giving help brought about greater benefits than receiving help. Helping others through one’s religious activities increases satisfaction and improves one’s outlook on physical and spiritual lives.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Galatians 6:7-10 stated, “7 Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – This sentence, inserted within Paul’s flow of thought regarding money, gives a general principle about the attitudes of kindness, giving, and sharing. While people can deceive one another, and even themselves, about their motives and attitudes for giving, they cannot deceive God. Paul said that these believers themselves must not be misled. People can’t ignore God and get away with it. What they sow, they will reap. Sow means “spread, utilize, invest.” Whatever we use as key values determines the course of our life. Jesus taught the importance of investing our time and utilizing our resources wisely for the Kingdom (Matthew 6:19-21).
While believers have received God’s special blessings and promises, God does not change the positive and negative of the natural law that people will reap what they sow. From farming to finances, this saying holds true (Proverbs 22:8). A farmer plants corn and grows corn; he should not expect nor desire anything else. Believers must decide what crop they want and plant accordingly, for what they get back will be directly related to what they put in, as Paul explains in the next verse.

Believers who use their lives and sow their resources to satisfy their own sinful desires will earn a harvest of decay and death. Those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21). When we sow to the flesh, we bring these seeds of destruction into our life. Born-Again Christian believers who sow their resources and invest their lives to please the Holy Spirit have a far different harvest. They will reap everlasting life.

How do we sow “to please the Holy Spirit”? When we use our resources to grow spiritually and to support the Lord’s work so that others can enter the Kingdom and grow spiritually, we are sowing to please the Holy Spirit. Why? Because our harvest results in spiritual growth and souls reached for the Kingdom; thus, our harvest lasts forever. This kind of stewardship of our resources can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit controls a believer’s life, the results are amazing. As Galatians 5:22-23 pointed out, the fruit borne in a believer is life-changing. That change will affect the believer’s handling of money, use of talent, and investment of time.

While good works will never earn salvation, Paul did encourage believers to persist in doing what is good. While we do good, we should not get discouraged and give up. To continue the analogy of sowing and reaping, a farmer will have no harvest to reap if he becomes too weary to labor in the fields or if he gives up altogether. The harvest will not reap itself. Every aspect of farming, planting, maintaining, and finally the harvesting takes hard work. So, too, Born-Again Christian believers must not become discouraged and give up when they follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, grow spiritually, and do good for God’s Kingdom. While it may seem at times like a losing battle [Corona Virus/COVID-19], we are assured that we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time, in God’s timetable.

What kind of harvest did the apostle have in mind? A Christian will reap a harvest of present blessings: the fruit of the Spirit, well-instructed believers, restored sinners, and mutual support. But ultimately he or she will reap the harvest of eternal life in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 6:8). Though the appropriate time is the time of God’s own choosing, Paul was most likely referring to the time of the fulfillment of God’s promises at Christ’s second coming (1 Timothy 6:15).

Every time we have the opportunity to do good, we should do it. The timing for doing good is always right. The opportunity is not optional. We are to treat it as strategically placed by God in our path. Our settings may continually change, but each one will bring a fresh opportunity for helping and serving.

God calls Born-Again Christian beleivers to do good to everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike. The fruit of the Holy Spirit must be shared with both the Christian and the non-Christian world. Some fields may be very difficult to “work,” but our purpose should be to sow goodness anyway!

If Paul still had in mind our financial responsibility, we should be willing to help others financially whenever we are able. But we should focus particularly on the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters. The Christian family extends far beyond the walls of a particular church or the limits of a particular denomination to include all true believers.

When Paul told individual believers to “do good,” he spoke to their responsibility in the community as well as in the church. The church is not meant to become merely a social agency, but individual believers can work together in meeting social needs, giving time and resources as God calls and enables them. Sowing seeds of kindness to those in need expresses our Lord Jesus Christ’s love and prepares hearts to receive the Gospel.
He left the Galatians with a strong word-picture of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The decision that faced his readers was not really between two competing voices of authority; rather, the choice was between denying the Cross or finding through it the only true Way [Jesus Christ] of life [see John 14:6 below]

John 14:6 says, Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ replied: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus’ response shows that the destination is not a physical place but a person (the Father), and that the way to that destination is another person (the Son). Jesus is the Way to the Father; Jesus is the Truth (or reality) of all God’s promises; and Jesus is the Life as He joins His divine life to ours, both now and eternally. Jesus is the Way that leads to the Truth and Life.
Our Lord Jesus’ exclusive claim is unmistakable. It forces an unconditional response. Lord Jesus Christ invites people to accept or reject Him, making it clear that partial acceptance is rejection. His self-description invalidates alternative plans of salvation. Some would say that a single way is entirely too restrictive. But that attitude fails to see the desperate state of the human condition. That there is a way at all is evidence of God’s grace and love. The state of human rebellion can be seen in this: We are like people drowning at sea who are graciously thrown a life-saving rope but who respond by insisting that we deserve a choice of several ropes along with the option of swimming to safety if we so choose.

23. Lowering Kids’ Anxiety Before Surgery

Source: Anaesthesia and Intensive Care – A test group of 120 children ages 5 to 12 were tested while they were waiting to receive anesthesia for surgery. Those children whose mothers were religious were less anxious.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Philippians 4:6 stated, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Attitudes of joy and gentleness, combined with constant awareness of Christ’s return, should dispel any worry. Believers should not set aside life’s responsibilities so as not to worry about them; Paul was focusing on believers’ attitudes in daily life and as they faced opposition and persecution. Christians are to be responsible for their needs and their families and to care about and be concerned for others, but they are not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34).
Worrying is bad because it is a subtle form of distrust in God. When believers worry, they are saying that they don’t trust that God will provide and they doubt that He cares or that He can handle their situation. Paul offered prayer as an antidote to worry. Instead, pray about everything. Prayer combats worry by allowing us catharsis or to release of pent-up feelings and repressed emotions. We can off-load our stress onto God. Paul said to take all the energy that is used in worrying and put it into prayer. This includes praying about everything. No request is too small, difficult, or inconsequential to God. Paul encouraged the believers to pray about what they need and then to thank God for all He has done. It may seem impossible not to worry about anything, but Paul explained that this can happen if Born-Again Christian believers truly give their worries to God. Worry and prayer cannot coexist.

BENEFITS OF PRAYER

  1. Becoming More Forgiving Source: Psychological Science – In one study, people who prayed for a romantic partner/spouse harbored fewer vengeful thoughts and emotions and were ready to forgive and move on after a conflict. Spiritually: The Bible, New Living Translation (NLT) Romans 5:15 “But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. “James 5:13 “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies God’s generous gift of forgiveness through Christ (justification) has a greater but opposite effect than the trespass of Adam and its consequences. Yet in each case, the act of one affected the lives of many. Because of Adam’s sin, death entered the human race, and since then all people have died (with the Bible’s exceptions of Enoch and Elijah). All people will die until the end of this age. Because of Jesus Christ, however, we can trade judgment for forgiveness. We can trade our sin for Jesus’ goodness. Our Lord Jesus Christ offers us the opportunity to be born into His spiritual family—the family line that begins with forgiveness and leads to eternal life. If we do nothing, we have death through Adam; but if we come to God by faith, we have an abundant life here on earth and eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever.
  2. Achieving Goals More Effectively Source: Psychological Bulletin – Prayer affects regions of the brain that improve self-control, and people who view their goals as sacred put more effort and energy into attaining them. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) James 1:4 “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – It is not our nature to endure. When it comes to trials, we would rather escape, explain, or exit the difficulty. In fact, we will tend to do almost anything to avoid enduring a trial. Faithful endurance, however, generates whole people, recognized as strong in character, or mature. We will be seasoned, experienced, well-developed, fit for the tasks God sent us into the world to do. This strength is a quality developed by how much we have learned from the trials we have experienced. We are also ready for anything because we have been fully trained. The weaknesses and imperfections are being removed from our character; we are gaining victory over old sins; we are demonstrating a sense of competence about life. This completeness relates to the breadth of our experience.
  3. Living A Longer Life Source: Health Psychology – More people found that in addition to private prayer, attending religious services/gathering in Home Fellowship Churches/Bible Study Groups, and being involved in other church/group activities predicted a longer and healthier lifespan. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 “14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Everything that Paul and his companions did was to honor God. Not only did fear of God motivate them (see 2 Corinthians 5:11), but Christ’s love controlled their actions. Out of His great love, Jesus had given up His life for their sakes. He had not acted out of His own self-interest, selfishly holding on to the glory of heaven that He already possessed (Philippians 2:6). Instead, Jesus had willingly died for everyone. Those who believe that also believe that they have died to the old life. They should be willing to abandon their old, selfish ways in order to live a new life for Christ (Romans 6:6-14; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:20). Like Paul, we should no longer live to please ourselves. We should die to ourselves and live for our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive today and interceding with God on our behalf (Romans 6:22).
  4. Coping Better With Breast Cancer Source: PscyhoOncology – Praying in an online support group helped breast cancer patients experience less stress, have lower levels of negative emotions, and experience greater well-being. In addition, belief in an afterlife reduced fear of death. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  5. Protecting Teens Against Drugs Source: Psychology of Addictive Drugs – Teens who view religion as a meaningful part of their lives are half as likely to use drugs, compared to non-religious teens – especially during stressful times, (COVID-19 Stay-At-Home, unemployment, etc.) such as having an unemployed parent, and lockdown small businesses. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  6. Recovering From Abusive Relationships Source: Social Psychology Quarterly – Prayer helps victims of abusive relationships to recover a positive view of themselves and reduces emotional pain. In addition, people who are religious are less likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] after being victims of violence in a relationship. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  7. Reducing Financial Stress Source: The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion – Older people found that faith and attendance at religious services/Home Fellowship Churches/Bible Study Groups offset the emotional toll of financial strain. Prayer increases gratitude which, in turn, reduces negative impact of financial difficulties. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  8. Reducing Genetic Risk for Depression Source: The American Journal of Psychiatry – Prayer and other religious practices reduce or alleviate depression, with or without genetic risk. Adults with the highest risk of depression, due to a family history of the condition, are one-tenth as likely to suffer from depression if religion is important in their lives and they frequently attend religious/spiritual services. Those who are religious or spiritual and at lower risk of depression are at least one-fourth as likely to develop depression as their non-religious peers. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  9. Increasing Happiness and Financial Satisfaction Source: Journal of Religion and Health – Adults who are the most religious (spiritually matured and in good health), in terms of prayer with a positive focus, attendance at church services, home fellowships, Bible studies, and using their faith to deal with day-to-day problems in a positive way, are happier and more satisfied with their financial situation. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  10. Improving Recovery From Heart Surgery Source: The Gerontologist – People who pray with a positive, hopeful attitude as an ongoing part of their lives prior to undergoing heart surgery, experience less depression and anxiety afterwards, both in the short and long term. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  11. Improving Outlook Among Prostate Cancer Patients Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine – Those whose religion or spiritual good health gave them a sense of meaning and peace were less likely to experience depression and coped more effectively with their condition. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  12. Enhancing Recovery From Brain Injury Source: Rehabilitation Psychology – Those who suffered traumatic brain injury and felt the strongest connection to a higher power [especially with God, the Holy Spirit ] were least distressed, most satisfied with their lives, and experienced better recovery. Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  13. Protecting Against Stress Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine – Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  14. Reducing Impact of Chronic Pain Source: Journal of Behavioral Medicine Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Book Chapter:Verses “God’s Words… Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies
  15. Decreasing Alcohol Abuse; Source: Hospital and Community Psychiatry
  16. Kids Doing Better in School; Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
  17. Significantly Lowering Health Risks; Source: International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
  18. Making Substance Abuse & Virus (COVID-19) Treatment More Effective; Source: Psychiatric Services
  19. Reducing Risk for Diabetes Complications; Source: Diabetes Care
  20. Recovering From the Loss of a Loved One; Source: Journals of Gerontology
  21. Lowering Men’s Risk for Fatal Heart Disease; Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
  22. Enhancing Satisfaction With Life; Source: Psychosomatic Medicine
  23. Lowering Kids’ Anxiety Before Surgery; Source: Anaesthesia and Intensive Care
  24. Lowering Blood Pressure; Source: International Journal of of Psychiatry Medicine
  25. Protecting Teens Against Meningitis; Source: British Medical Journal
  26. Protecting Against Age-Related Mental Decline; Source: The Journals of Gerontology Series: B
  27. Shortening Hospital Stays for Heart Surgery including COVID-19 patient with ventilator; Source: Health Psychology
  28. Reducing Stress in Fibromyalgia Patients; Source: International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
  29. Improving Mood and Outlook; Source: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
  30. Calming Anger; Source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
  31. Supporting Patients With Advanced Cancer; Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology
  32. Improving Family Relationship; Source: Sociological Quarterly
  33. Reducing Prostate Cancer [and COVID-19] Symptoms; Source: Psychooncology
  34. Reducing the Odds of Smoking; Source: Nicotine and Tobacco Research
  35. Controlling Fear of Terrorist Attacks; Source: Journal of Personality & Social Psychology
  36. Reducing Stress Among Caregivers; Source: American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
  37. Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle; Source: Preventive Medicine
  38. Alleviating Panic Disorder; Source: Depression and Anxiety
  39. Reducing Cancer Treatment Side Effects; Source Strathlentherapie and Onkologie
  40. Helping Couples Deal With Chronic Disease; Source: European Journal of Cancer Care
  41. Buffering Against Stress and Negative Emotions; Source: Twin Research and Human Genetics
  42. Aiding Recovery From Drugs & Gambling Addictions; Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion
  43. Slowing Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease; Source: Neurology
  44. Improving Immune Function; Source:Health Psychology
  45. Reducing Hostility; Source: Journal of Religion and Health
  46. Protecting the Heart; Source: Research on Aging
  47. Having a Happier Marriage; Source: Journal of Marriage and Family

PEACE AND IT’S PLACE IN OUR PERSONAL WORSHIP

SENNACHERIB THREATENS jERUSALEM

15Isaiah 36:4-6 (NLT)   Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah:
“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? 5 Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? 6 On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!

            So often, when ancient Israel was threatened by military oppressors, the people fled into various military alliances to provide for the national defense. Yet real peace is never political. It is an interior state of confidence that is derived from our love for God. Such indwelling peace is the basis of our personal worship.

            King Sennacherib’s field commander – an Assyrian pagan – sends a message to Hezekiah, king of Judah, reminding him that he has falsely put his trust in military alliances when he should have put his trust in God. While King Hezekiah is still remembered as one of the best kings of Judah, this taunt from his godless enemy should have been a prompt for him to renew his trust in the true God of Israel. God is able to use pagans as well as fellow believers to remind us of the source of true peace.

            Listen to the counsel of a hobo, particularly when it rebukes our weak righteousness. A beggar approached the front door of a house. He intended to ask for charity, but when he met the woman of the house, she rebuked him for his unkempt appearance, his lazy lifestyle, and his poverty. She slammed the door in his face and left him dejected, still feeling the stabbing force of her sharp tongue.

            The beggar then went around to the rear of her house and knocked on the back door. When the same woman opened the door, the poor beggar remarked, “Oh, please forgive me. I came to this door hoping that the angry woman I met at the front of the house might have a sister who would be kinder and more like our dear Lord Jesus at the back door.” The woman felt the surgical scalpel of his truth. Peacelesness often erupts in anger. If this is true in our lives, let’s claim our confidence in grace and let peace guide us into better worship.

            When we embrace the peace that God has to offer, our outlook on life is changed. We rely on God for our confidence and find ourselves free to worship Him. Let the events of our lives today remind us of our reliance on God. Listen to those pagan and not-so-pagan voices, and find our worship for God once again.

THE PRAYER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

The Prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ

1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so He can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given Him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given Him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring Me into the glory We shared before the world began.

6 “I have revealed You to the ones You gave Me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from You, 8 for I have passed on to them the message You gave Me. They accepted it and know that I came from You, and they believe You sent Me.

9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You. 10 All who are Mine belong to You, and You have given them to Me, so they bring Me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given Me Your name; now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as We are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name You gave Me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

13 “Now I am coming to You. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with My joy. 14 I have given them Your Word. And the world hates Them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by Your Truth; teach them Your Word, which is Truth. 18 Just as you sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your Truth.

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one – as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in us so that the world will believe You sent Me.

22 “I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are One. 23 I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me. 24 Father, I want these whom You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they can see all the glory You gave Me because You loved Me even before the world began! 25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know You, but I do; and these disciples know You sent Me. 26 I have revealed You to them, and I will continue to do so. Then Your love for Me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

BENEFITS OF PRAYER

  • Becoming More Forgiving; Source: Psychological Science
  • Achieving Goals More Effectively; Source: Psychological Bulletin
  • Living A Longer A Life; Source: Health Psychology
  • Coping Better With Breast Cancer; Source: PscyhoOncology
  • Protecting Teens Against Drugs; Source: Psychology of Addictive Drugs
  • Recovering From Abusive Relationships; Source: Social Psychology Quarterly
  • Reducing Financial Stress; Source: The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion
  • Reducing Genetic Risk for Depression; Source: The American Journal of Psychiatry
  • Increasing Happiness and Financial Satisfaction; Source: Journal of Religion and Health
  • Improving Recovery From Heart Surgery; Source: The Gerontologist
  • Improving Outlook Among Prostate Cancer Patients; Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine
  • Enhancing Recovery From Brain Injury; Source: Rehabilitation Psychology
  • Protecting Against Stress; Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine
  • Reducing Impact of Chronic Pain; Source: Journal of Behavioral Medicine
  • Decreasing Alcohol Abuse; Source: Hospital and Community Psychiatry
  • Kids Doing Better in School; Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
  • Significantly Lowering Health Risks; Source: International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
  • Making Substance Abuse & Virus (COVID-19) Treatment More Effective; Source: Psychiatric Services
  • Reducing Risk for Diabetes Complications; Source: Diabetes Care
  • Recovering From the Loss of a Loved One; Source: Journals of Gerontology
  • Lowering Men’s Risk for Fatal Heart Disease; Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
  • Enhancing Satisfaction With Life; Source: Psychosomatic Medicine
  • Lowering Kids’ Anxiety Before Surgery; Source: Anaesthesia and Intensive Care
  • Lowering Blood Pressure; Source: International Journal of of Psychiatry Medicine
  • Protecting Teens Against Meningitis; Source: British Medical Journal
  • Protecting Against Age-Related Mental Decline; Source: The Journals of Gerontology Series: B
  • Shortening Hospital Stays for Heart Surgery including COVID-19 patient with ventilator; Source: Health Psychology
  • Reducing Stress in Fibromyalgia Patients; Source: International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
  • Improving Mood and Outlook; Source: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
  • Calming Anger; Source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
  • Supporting Patients With Advanced Cancer; Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology
  • Improving Family Relationship; Source: Sociological Quarterly
  • Reducing Prostate Cancer [and COVID-19] Symptoms; Source: Psychooncology
  • Reducing the Odds of Smoking; Source: Nicotine and Tobacco Research
  • Controlling Fear of Terrorist Attacks; Source: Journal of Personality & Social Psychology
  • Reducing Stress Among Caregivers; Source: American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle; Source: Preventive Medicine
  • Alleviating Panic Disorder; Source: Depression and Anxiety
  • Reducing Cancer Treatment Side Effects; Source Strathlentherapie and Onkologie
  • Helping Couples Deal With Chronic Disease; Source: European Journal of Cancer Care
  • Buffering Against Stress and Negative Emotions; Source: Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • Aiding Recovery From Drugs & Gambling Addictions; Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion
  • Slowing Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease; Source: Neurology
  • Improving Immune Function; Source:Health Psychology
  • Reducing Hostility; Source: Journal of Religion and Health
  • Protecting the Heart; Source: Research on Aging
  • Having a Happier Marriage; Source: Journal of Marriage and Family

PEACE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus – Philemon 1:17-21

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it. And I won’t mention that you owe me your very soul!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor* for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! 22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.

In this verse 17, Paul stated his request: give him the same welcome you would give me. Like the father of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable (Luke 15:11-32), Philemon should open his arms to welcome Onesimus back to his household and, as a new believer, to the church. God had welcomed Onesimus; so should Philemon. The word partner is koinonon from the word koinonia, translated as generosity. Philemon and Paul shared the koinonia described in verse 6. Paul wanted Philemon’s attitude toward Onesimus to be based on his attitude toward Paul.

In verse 18, Onesimus may have confessed some such act to Paul. The only way Onesimus could have financed his flight was to have stolen from his master money or possessions that he could sell. Even if not, he still would be in debt for the work that had not been performed in his absence. This would cause Onesimus to be extremely afraid to return to his master. It was bad enough that he had run away, but if he had also stolen money or possessions or had harmed his master in any other way, he would be in deep trouble. Thus Paul’s letter served as a buffer—giving Onesimus courage to return and giving Philemon the entire picture so that he might deal kindly with his slave.
Any money or possessions that Onesimus had taken certainly were long gone. Onesimus had no means to repay. Paul asked that any money stolen be charged to his own account; in other words, Onesimus no longer would owe Philemon anything, but Paul would. Paul was not suggesting to Philemon that he simply forgive Onesimus’s debt; the wrong needed to be righted. Instead, Paul took on that debt on Onesimus’s behalf. Onesimus would never know whether the debt was actually demanded and repaid. All he knew was that a debt needed to be paid because of his wrong actions—but that someone else was going to pay it for him. Onesimus got a dose of true Christian love through Paul’s action.

In verse 19, often, Paul would use a secretary to write his letters as he dictated them (see Romans 16:22). But sometimes at the end of the letters, he would take the pen and write a few words in his own handwriting to authenticate the letters (see, for example, Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18). For Paul to write the words I will repay it emphasized that he was placing himself under legal obligation to do so. Paul was not “just saying” this to placate Philemon; he meant to do so by putting it in writing. If Philemon had demanded repayment, Paul would have had to do it. But it seems that Paul knew his friend well enough to know that he would not demand repayment. While Paul told Philemon to put Onesimus’s charge on Paul’s “page” in the accounting book, Paul also reminded Philemon that he (Paul) had a huge credit already, in that Philemon owed his very soul (his conversion and eternal security) to Paul. Once Onesimus’s debt was put on Paul’s page, it would be canceled. As Philemon’s spiritual father, Paul was hoping that Philemon would feel a debt of gratitude that would cause him to accept Onesimus with a spirit of forgiveness.

In verse 20, in the matters of ledgers and debts, once Onesimus’s debt was repaid, Paul would still have a credit, for who can ever repay someone for bringing him or her to eternal life? Thus Paul asked that the balance be paid in kindness to Onesimus as a favor to Paul. Onesimus had been useful to Paul (1:11); Paul hoped that Philemon would find the same. And as Philemon had refreshed the hearts of the saints (1:7), he could hardly do other than refresh Paul’s heart as well.

In verse 21, Paul was not only confident that Philemon would welcome Onesimus back, but that Philemon would also do even more than Paul asked. This may have been a hint that Philemon would willingly free Onesimus so that he could return to Paul or be freed when Paul got to Colosse. We can be sure that Philemon welcomed Onesimus, but the “even more” is left unknown.

Paul, harboring a runaway slave named Onesimus, begs Philemon to offer peace to the troubled renegade. Our service to others is to preach peace to those who have the power to create it. According to Roman law, Onesimus deserved death for his actions, but his confidence in his master’s forgiving grace is great. So he carries Paul’s letter, which will bring him either peace or execution. Paul declares in this letter that he has a confidence that Philemon will forgive his renegade slave, Onesimus. The apostle believes that his own inner turmoil, as well as Onesimus’, will be rewarded by peace when Philemon offers forgiveness to his errant slave.

            We do not know the outcome of this story, but even as we read this letter, the shortest of all Paul’s letters, we feel Paul’s confidence that Philemon will indeed forgive and reinstate Onesimus. The tone of Paul’s plea is confidence. And confidence itself is the grand porch before God’s holy Mansion of Peace. Philemon could not serve those to whom God had called him until he lived up to Paul’s positive expectation. Then peace would be evident to all who were watching. It is a good thing to desire to live up to the expectations of other believers. Others count on us. They believe in us. We see God’s expectations a little at a time, but we do know what others expect of us. And in our good example to them, we will have gone a long way toward pleasing God.

            Let’s place this longing to fulfill the positive expectations of others in the center of our own lives. The good things they expect of us can be accomplished. when we are living peacefully and as a good example before others, then we will find it easier to minister to others, for it is hard to serve when own lives are in turmoil. The way to a life of joyous service is to surrender the turmoil, embrace the peace of Christ, and move confidently into the ministry to which God has called us.

KARAOKE and GOSPEL SONGS

Let’s sing Karaoke song like this – YOU RAISE ME UP

“For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” John 6:44

A person cannot come to Jesus if he has not been drawn by the Father, taught by the Father, heard from the Father, and learned from the Father. God, not the person, plays the most active role in salvation. When someone chooses to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, he or she does so only in response to the urging of God’s Holy Spirit. Thus no one can believe in Jesus without God’s help.

When Jesus quoted from the prophets saying, “They will all be taught by God,” He was alluding to an Old Testament view of the messianic Kingdom where all people would be taught directly by God (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:31-34). He was stressing the importance of not merely hearing, but learning. We are taught by God through the Bible, our experiences, the thoughts the Holy Spirit brings, and relationships with other Christians. Are you open to God’s teaching?

Jesus’ previous statement about people being taught by God (and listening to and learning from the Father) does not mean that any person could actually see God the Father. Only Jesus has come from God’s presence, and only He has seen the Father. This last statement in itself implies divine privileges-for no man has ever seen God (see 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:15-16).

PEACE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST

Philippians 1:3-6 (NLT) 

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

            13Paul tells the Philippians of his confidence: God will not leave them half-grown in their relationship with Christ. Salvation is the first step to growth – but it is not the last step. God will expand on our fledging faith until it matters into even deeper levels of union with Christ.

            The initial joy we each embrace upon discovering Christ sometimes seems absent in the first real crisis we face following our conversion. This crisis may also prompt feelings of abandonment by God, feelings that steal our peace and rob us of confidence.

            But God makes it clear that we are to remember that all His promises remain in place – even during our seasons of doubt. Peace is always as near as our confidence in the promise in Philippians 1:6. He who started a good work in us will not walk off and leave the job half finished. He will perform His work right up until the time our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

            Our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ stimulates our confidence in God’s finishing work in us. God spent the blood of His Son to purchase our salvation, and He is committed to our continuing maturity. He longs to see in every new Christian the same thing every good mother wants to see in her babies: growth.

            A good mother wants her babies to grow. She – like our loving heavenly Father – will love those babies whether they grow or not, but she longs to see them come to maturity as responsible adults. I know a mother whose second son was born mentally impaired. Unlike her first son who matured, went to school, and obtained a good job and independent life, her second son remained dependent all of his life. He was never able to feed himself, and he never outgrew diapers. The mother spent equal amounts of love on both sons, yet was never rewarded by maturity in her second son. She experienced the child’s love in other ways that brought her joy, but she never knew the joy of watching him grow up.

            God longs for us to grow up. We are His children, heirs with His Son. He wants our confidence to bring us peace in any circumstance. Our maturity brings joy to God and peacefulness to our own lives.

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